The Week 4 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 1 p.m. ET.
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Top Wide Receivers in the FantasyLabs Models
There are seven wide receivers atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
Here’s where they place within our Week 4 fantasy football rankings (as of Thursday afternoon).
- D.K. Metcalf: No. 4 (PPR) | No. 4 (Half PPR) | No. 4 (Standard)
- Terry McLaurin: No. 13 (PPR) | No. 14 (Half PPR) | No. 13 (Standard)
- D.J. Moore: No. 16 (PPR) | No. 16 (Half PPR) | No. 17 (Standard)
- DeVante Parker: No. 21 (PPR) | No. 21 (Half PPR) | No. 20 (Standard)
- Brandin Cooks: No. 28 (PPR) | No. 29 (Half PPR) | No. 31 (Standard)
- Michael Gallup: No. 34 (PPR) | No. 33 (Half PPR) | No. 32 (Standard)
- Damiere Byrd: No. 72 (PPR) | No. 72 (Half PPR) | No. 71 (Standard)
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
Check in throughout the week as I publish the rest of the positional breakdowns.
D.K. Metcalf: Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins, 53 Over/Under
Even with his Leon Lett-esque goal-line fumble last week …
DK Metcalf just got stripped at the 1 yard line on a 63 YD reception.
He now averages 1 fumble every 4.75 games for his career. pic.twitter.com/lCJ96lyW7A
— Barstool Sabermetrics (@sabermetrics) September 27, 2020
… Metcalf has dominated in his second NFL season.
- Week 3 (vs. DAL): 19.0 PPR, 15.0 STD | 4-110-1 receiving, eight targets
- Week 2 (vs. NE): 19.2 PPR, 15.2 STD | 4-92-1 receiving, six targets
- Week 1 (at ATL): 19.5 PPR, 15.5 STD | 4-95-1 receiving, eight targets
His soul-stealing Week 2 performance against 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore was particularly impressive.
Although he’s not a technically proficient player — he’s not yet a nuanced route-runner — Metcalf is quickly becoming one of the league’s most commanding receivers thanks to his sheer athleticism, as exemplified by his 99th-percentile 133.3 Speed Score (per Player Profiler).
Last year, Metcalf flashed a world of potential. In a slow-paced, run-focused offense, he was 58-900-7 receiving with a league-high 18 end-zone targets in the regular season, and then in two playoff games he balled out with 11-219-1 receiving.
This year, he has transformed the promise of potential into the potency of production. The sample is small, but on his 22 targets, Metcalf has bestowed to quarterback Russell Wilson an über-elite 16.2 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A, per RotoViz AY/A App).
Russ is cooking, but Metcalf is chipping in money for groceries and doing a lot of the eating.
Metcalf has an intriguing matchup. The Dolphins are No. 31 with a 42.5 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus). Objectively, the matchup could not be much better. The Dolphins are without No. 2 cornerback Byron Jones (groin), and in each game this year they have used a different cornerback in the slot.
But of all the Seahawks receivers, Metcalf has the toughest matchup against cornerback Xavien Howard, who has held opponents to a 54.1% catch rate and 7.3 yards per target since his 2017 second season.
Howard on his own shouldn’t be a massive source of resistance, but he might be just good enough — and the other Dolphins pass defenders might be bad enough — for Wilson to funnel a couple targets away from Metcalf and toward other receivers with far friendlier matchups.
But even if that happens, Metcalf should still smash. He’s averaging 99 yards and a touchdown per game, and he’s not going to run 100% of his routes against Howard — and it’s not as if Howard is an elite shutdown man anyway. He’s merely good. Against Metcalf, that almost certainly won’t be good enough to prevent another strong performance.
For what it’s worth, I’m betting on the Seahawks. They are 3-0 against the spread (ATS), good for a 93.2% return on investment (ROI, per our Bet Labs database). Opponents have been unable to stop Wilson and his receivers in this new #LetRussCook era.
And I’m not worried that the Seahawks are a West Coast team traveling east and playing in the early game, which theoretically means they should have some sort of biorhythmic disadvantage. With the Seahawks, head coach Pete Carroll has had 23 East Coast games with a start time of 1 p.m. ET: He’s 13-7-3 ATS (24.6% ROI).
For his career, Wilson is 71-53-7 ATS (11.4% ROI) in the regular season. You tend not to make money if you bet against him — and his receivers are the beneficiaries.
A high-end WR1 in season-long leagues, Metcalf is a strong candidate for cash games and guaranteed prize pools in DFS, especially on FanDuel, where he has a position-high +4.45 Projected Plus/Minus and is the No. 1 receiver in the Bales, Levitan, Koerner, Raybon and Freedman Models.
Salaries: $6,800 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel
Terry McLaurin: Washington Football Team (+13) vs. Baltimore Ravens, 45.5 O/U
McLaurin has had something of a Rorschach kickoff to the season.
- Week 3 (at CLE): 12.6 PPR, 8.6 STD | 4-83-0 receiving, eight targets | 1-3-0 rushing
- Week 2 (at ARI): 25.5 PPR, 18.5 STD | 7-125-1 receiving, 10 targets
- Week 1 (vs. PHI): 11.1 PPR, 6.1 STD | 5-61-0 receiving, seven targets
One person might see those numbers and think that McLaurin isn’t scoring enough touchdowns or getting enough targets. With quarterback Dwayne Haskins throwing him the rock, it’s true that McLaurin might not get into the end zone frequently, and he’s outside of the top 12 with 8.3 targets per game.
But I see McLaurin differently. He has an efficient 10.8 yards per target and is No. 6 in the league with 145.3 air yards and yards after the catch (AirYAC) per game (per RotoViz Player Statistical Summary).
As long as he doesn’t suffer an injury, he should easily surpass 1,000 yards for the season, and that’s not a fluke. Despite playing on a 3-13 team that was dead last in the league with 16.6 points per game, McLaurin balled out last year as a rookie with 58-919-7 receiving on 93 targets in 14 games, finishing as the No. 10 wide receiver overall with 9.9 yards per target.
This dude can play.
And I wish that he had a different quarterback or that Haskins were better, but I’m not all that worried about the guy throwing him the ball. Haskins might improve as the season progresses, and it’s not as if McLaurin was bad last year in his seven games with Haskins as the starting quarterback.
- Weeks 9-16 with Haskins (seven games): 30-461-2 receiving, 47 targets
- Weeks 1-8 with Case Keenum & Colt McCoy (seven games): 28-458-5 receiving, 46 targets
McLaurin’s 2019 splits with and without Haskins were almost identical with the exception of three touchdowns — and touchdowns are very random. Even with Haskins at quarterback, McLaurin should be able to produce.
Based on what he did as a rookie, I think that McLaurin is just too good of a player to fail. He might have week-to-week volatility, but for the season he’s someone I will want to be invested in.
If you look in the RotoViz Screener, you can sort through all the rookie wide receivers of the past 20 years to find guys comparable to McLaurin, who excelled with his 23% market share of targets per game (MS) and his 0.38 receiving fantasy points over expectation per attempt (reFPOEPA).
Based on those marks, the five rookie wide receivers of the past two decades most comparable to 2019 McLaurin is quite a cohort.
- Julio Jones (2011): 20% MS | 0.47 reFPOEPA
- Michael Thomas (2016): 19% MS | 0.45 reFPOEPA
- Mike Evans (2014): 25% MS | 0.37 reFPOEPA
- Michael Clayton (2004): 27% MS | 0.36 reFPOEPA
- Chris Chambers (2001): 19% MS | 0.35 reFPOEPA
We’re already far enough into the season to see that 2020 McLaurin is much more like 2012 Jones, 2017 Thomas and 2015 Evans than 2005 Clayton and 2002 Chambers. He’s special.
McLaurin has a tough matchup this week. There’s no doubt about that. The Ravens entered the year with PFF’s No. 1 secondary, and they have perhaps the league’s best trio of starting corners in Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith, the last of whom is likely to match up most with McLaurin.
A versatile defender, Smith opened the year at safety as the in-house Earl Thomas replacement, but he shifted back to corner in Week 2 following the season-ending injury to teammate Tavon Young (knee, IR).
Since last year, Smith has allowed just 5.2 yards per target in his coverage. He represents a significant challenge.
And when McLaurin escapes Smith’s coverage by lining up wide to the right or in the slot, it’s not as if his life will suddenly improve. Peters and Humphrey are both top-10 PFF corners.
Wherever he is on the field, McLaurin will be running a route against a top-tier pass defender.
But I’m skeptical as to how much that will actually matter.
The tough matchup is likely to limit what McLaurin can accomplish in a peak situation. Against the Ravens, he has a lower theoretical ceiling on a per-target basis.
But the Footballers are massive underdogs. They should have a pass-heavy game script, and McLaurin is clearly the team’s best receiver, given his 1.03 RACR and 0.62 WOPR. He should see a ton of targets in Week 4, and even with the tough matchup, that volume will elevate both his ceiling and floor.
RACR and WOPR are stats created by Josh Hermsmeyer of AirYards.com. RACR (Receiver Air Conversion Ratio) measures how efficiently a receiver turns air yards into receptions and yards after the catch. WOPR (Weighted Opportunity Rating) combines target share and air-yard share.
Right now, McLaurin is No. 7 in the league with 269 yards receiving. That +6500 ticket on McLaurin to lead the league in receiving doesn’t look too shabby right now.
McLaurin is a high-end WR2 with volume-fueled WR1 upside in season-long leagues, and in DFS he’s a viable tournament option who will likely have a sub-5% exposure rate on account of his matchup.
McLaurin is the No. 1 receiver in the Freedman Model.
Salaries: $5,800 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel
D.J. Moore: Carolina Panthers (+3.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals, 51.5 O/U
T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s hair grows an inch each week Moore doesn’t score a touchdown.
2019 D.J. Moore (2nd year): 1,215 yards, 15 games
2007 T.J. Houshmandzadeh (best year): 1,157 yards, 16 games https://t.co/OZNU2jIudR
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) January 17, 2020
At a glance, Moore’s 2020 numbers don’t look great. There’s little sexy about 14-239-0 receiving.
But Moore’s peripherals look good (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
Moore hasn’t been efficient at turning his targets and air yards into receptions, yards after the catch and touchdowns. As a result, he has massively underwhelmed at producing fantasy points over expectation.
But we know Moore is better than his 2020 production to date. We have the receipts from his 2019 campaign, when he was 87-1,175-4 receiving as a 22-year-old second-season breakout.
We know Moore has the talent to produce with sufficient opportunity, and right now he’s a top-12 receiver with 26 targets, 350 air yards, a 0.72 WOPR and 14.2 receiving expected fantasy points per game.
Moore is getting the opportunity. Eventually, the production will flow — perhaps as early as this week.
Even though Moore will see some coverage from cornerback Patrick Peterson, and even though opposing wide receiver units through three weeks are No. 31 against the Cardinals with just 15.5 fantasy points per game, I’m not worried about his matchup.
Peterson has played exclusively at left corner in two games this year, so Moore will probably be able to avoid him on the opposite side of the field where he typically lines up.
And if Peterson does shadow Moore, that might not go well for the 30-year-old veteran, who was painfully exposed when he tailed McLaurin in Week 2.
And the Cardinals defense has had a very easy schedule of opposing wide receivers so far: The wounded 49ers in Week 1, the talent-deficient Footballers in Week 2 and the run-restricted Lions in Week 3.
But true No. 1 receivers have still looked good against the Cardinals. Two guys have gotten six-plus targets against them this year. Both have produced.
- Kenny Golladay (Week 3): 17.7 PPR, 11.7 STD | 6-57-1 receiving, seven targets
- Terry McLaurin (Week 2): 25.5 PPR, 18.5 STD | 7-125-1 receiving, 10 targets
Do you think Moore will have six-plus targets against the Cardinals this weekend?
Over the past calendar year, Moore has had fewer than six targets just twice. The first was Week 16, when he played just six snaps before leaving early to injury. And the second was last week.
We’re looking at a major bounceback spot for Moore.
A mid-range WR2 with upside in season-long leagues, Moore is a cash-game and tournament possibility in DFS. It’s no surprise that he’s the No. 1 receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 4 Air Yards Buy-Low Model.
Moore is the top receiver in the CSURAM88 Model for DraftKings, where he has experienced an ill-advised $1,000 salary reduction since Week 1.
Salaries: $5,600 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel
DeVante Parker: Miami Dolphins (+6.5) vs. Seattle Seahawks, 53 O/U
For Parker, this week is all about the matchup. Opposing wide receivers are No. 1 against the Seahawks with 47.9 fantasy points per game.
Imagine I’m Matt Damon in Ocean’s Eleven as I say this: The list of guys who have already gone off against the Seahawks … well, it’s long.
- Amari Cooper (Week 3): 17.6 PPR, 8.6 STD | 9-86-0 receiving on 12 targets
- Michael Gallup (Week 3): 25.8 PPR, 19.8 STD | 6-138-1 receiving on nine targets
- CeeDee Lamb (Week 3): 11.6 PPR, 6.6 STD | 5-65-0 receiving on six targets
- Cedrick Wilson (Week 3): 27.7 PPR, 22.7 STD | 5-107-2 receiving on seven targets
- Julian Edelman (Week 2): 25.9 PPR, 17.9 STD | 8-179-0 receiving on 11 targets
- N’Keal Harry (Week 2): 15.2 PPR, 7.2 STD | 8-72-0 receiving on 12 targets
- Damiere Byrd (Week 2): 13.2 PPR, 7.2 STD | 6-72-0 receiving on nine targets
- Calvin Ridley (Week 1): 33.9 PPR, 24.9 STD | 9-130-2 receiving on 12 targets
- Julio Jones (Week 1): 24.7 PPR, 15.7 STD | 9-157-0 receiving on 12 targets
- Russell Gage (Week 1): 20.4 PPR, 11.4 STD | 9-114-0 receiving on 12 targets
The Seahawks have the league’s most receiver-friendly flow-chart defense.
Week Four flow chart…which teams are allowing the top FF performances… pic.twitter.com/ZR8UGMJ1sl
— Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) September 30, 2020
Long gone is the Legion of Boom, and the Seahawks are dealing with major injury issues in their secondary. Safety Jamal Adams (groin) exited Week 3 early and didn’t practice on Wednesday. Perimeter cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) missed Week 3 and looks unlikely for Week 4. On top of that, slot corner Marquise Blair (knee, IR) is out for the year.
And the Seahawks can’t get to the quarterback. They entered the season with PFF’s worst defensive line, and through three weeks they are No. 31 with a 53.0 PFF pass-rush grade. They are without top edge rusher Bruce Irvin (knee, IR) and have limited difference-making talent in their front four.
Against an injured secondary with plenty of time to stand in a clean pocket, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick could throw YOLO bomb upon YOLO bomb to keep up with the high-flying Seahawks offense — and Parker could be the guy he targets.
A surprise breakout last year with 72-1,202-9 receiving, Parker is yet to have a big game in 2020.
- Week 3 (at JAX): 11.9 PPR, 6.9 STD | 5-69-0 receiving, five targets
- Week 2 (vs. BUF): 16.3 PPR, 11.3 STD | 5-53-1 receiving, eight targets
- Week 1 (at NE): 8.7 PPR, 4.7 STD | 4-47-0 receiving, four targets
But his minor underperformance should be contextualized.
In Week 1, Parker aggravated a preexisting hamstring injury and left the game early. In Week 2, he was a true game-time decision and was still hampered by his hamstring. In Week 3, he finally practiced in full and was taken off the injury report, but the Dolphins didn’t need him to do much as they cruised to a 31-13 win over the Jaguars.
I don’t think Parker is having a bad season. He has just had a bad few weeks.
Now healthy and likely to have a pass-heavy game script against an exploitable defense, Parker is in position to go off.
A season-long upside WR2, Parker is a strong option in DFS tournaments, especially as the “run-back player” opposite Seahawks stacks.
Parker is the No. 1 wide receiver in the Bales and SportsGeek Models for DraftKings, where he has a position-high nine Pro Trends.
Salaries: $5,700 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel
Brandin Cooks: Houston Texans (-4.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings, 54.5 O/U
As of writing, the Texans-Vikings game is still slated to play, although it might be postponed because the Vikings last week played the Titans, who recently had players and staff members test positive for COVID-19.
The NFL has alerted the Vikings and Titans and their opponents for Week 4 that their games may be rescheduled.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 29, 2020
Assuming this game plays, Cooks will warrant consideration.
To date, Cooks has not had an impressive campaign.
- Week 3 (at PIT): 5.3 PPR, 2.3 STD | 3-23-0 receiving, five targets
- Week 2 (vs. BAL): 14.5 PPR, 9.5 STD | 5-95-0 receiving, eight targets
- Week 1 (at KC): 4.0 PPR, 2.0 STD | 2-20-0 receiving, five targets
When throwing to one of his five skill-position starters this year, quarterback Deshaun Watson has easily been his most inefficient when targeting Cooks, based on adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A, per RotoViz AY/A App).
But there are reasons to be optimistic about Cooks. He had an inordinately difficult schedule in Weeks 1-3, and he is probably still a good receiver: He is just 27 years old so he should be in his physical prime, and he has averaged 1,188.2 yards from scrimmage per year in his four healthy seasons while playing with three different quarterbacks.
Watson has struggled in 2020, but he is still a good quarterback even without former No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Watson’s Hopkins-based regular-season splits are suggestive (per RotoViz Game Splits App).
I’ll just acknowledge that without Hopkins, Watson has thrown fewer touchdowns and more interceptions and rushed for fewer yards. Fine. There’s a lot of randomness that comes with those numbers in a three-game sample.
What seems more relevant is the fact that Watson — while attempting and completing an almost identical number of passes — has been just as efficient without Hopkins (in fact, more efficient) at turning pass attempts into yards (8.44 yards per attempt vs. 8.1) — and that’s despite playing against the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers in Weeks 1-3.
On a per-throw basis, Watson in 2020 is probably still the guy he was in 2017-19, and if that’s the case, then his wide receivers should benefit.
Cooks should have some goodness coming his way shortly, because he is arguably Watson’s No. 1 receiver. He leads the team with a 20% target share, a 0.47 WPOR, 87.7 AirYAC per game and 10.0 expected fantasy points receiving per game.
Cooks is getting opportunities, and against the Vikings, he should be able to translate targets into fantasy points.
The Vikings are in total defensive disarray. Without edge rusher Danielle Hunter (neck, IR) and linebacker Anthony Barr (pectoral, IR), the Vikings have just one sack per game after ranking No. 5 last year with three per game.
Watson should have time to throw out of a clean pocket, and that should benefit Cook, who has a great matchup given that the Vikings have three new starting cornerbacks this season — and two of those guys are injured. Perimeter corner Cameron Dantzler (rib) and slot corner Mike Hughes (neck) both missed Week 3 and are uncertain for Week 4.
Opposing wide receiver units are No. 4 against the Vikings with 31.9 fantasy points per game.
Is it too on the nose to say that Cooks gonna cook?
Under defense-focused HC Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are No. 31 in the league with 34 points allowed per game. We could see a Michelin-level performance from the entire Texans offense.
A WR3 in season-long leagues, Cooks is a viable priced-down option in DFS, especially on DraftKings, where he is the No. 1 option in the Levitan Model and $700 cheaper than he was in Week 1.
Salaries: $4,500 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel
Michael Gallup: Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) vs. Cleveland Browns, 56 O/U
In Weeks 1-2, Gallup disappointed fantasy investors with 5-108-0 receiving on just 10 targets.
And then I sent this tweet.
People, Michael Gallup is good.
Gallup (2019-20, Career Games 17-32):
– 71 Recs
– 1,215 ReYds
– 6 ReTDs
– 123 targets
DeAndre Hopkins (2014, Career Games 17-32):
– 76 Recs
– 1,210 ReYds
– 6 ReTDs
– 127 targets
Buy low on Gallup, everywhere.
Also, good morning.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 24, 2020
And then Gallup went off in Week 3 with 6-138-1 receiving on nine targets.
I don’t want to say that I deserve credit for Gallup’s performance — I mean, maybe he saw my tweet and was like, “Yeah, I am the new Nuk” — but really what other conclusion could any reasonable person reach?
With his performance last week, Gallup’s production is now right in line with what we’ve seen out of No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper and rookie slot man CeeDee Lamb.
- Amari Cooper (three games): 25-267-0 receiving, 35 targets
- CeeDee Lamb (three games): 16-230-1 receiving, 21 targets
- Michael Gallup (three games): 11-246-1 receiving, 19 targets
Because Gallup is the team’s downfield receiver — he easily has a team-high 17.4-yard average depth of target (aDOT) — he doesn’t get as many targets as the other wide receivers, and he’s not as efficient at turning them into receptions.
And that means he’s a less desirable fantasy receiver and more volatile producer.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not as talented as Cooper and Lamb are or any less valuable to the offense. In comparison to Cooper, he has the higher RACR (0.77 vs. 0.76). In comparison to Lamb, he has the higher WOPR (0.41 vs. 0.33).
Gallup is right there with Cooper and Lamb as a player — and I want exposure to as many players as possible in this Cowboys passing attack, which is No. 1 in the league with 145 attempts, 96 completions and 1,187 yards.
Passing production abounds.
And it helps that the Cowboys are playing fast: They’re No. 1 with just 19.69 seconds per play (per Football Outsiders).
Pro-Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) has missed the past two games, but he is tentatively expected to return in Week 4, so as good as this offense has recently been, it might be even better on Sunday.
HC Mike McCarthy has exceeded expectations as a home favorite, going 53-35-4 ATS (17.3% ROI).
This spot is absolutely great: The Cowboys-Browns game has a slate-high 56-point over/under, so quarterback Dak Prescott might need to air it out, and the Browns have major issues in their secondary: No. 1 cornerback Denzel Ward (groin) aggravated a pre-existing injury last week and had to leave the game early. He missed practice on Wednesday and seems unlikely to suit up.
On top of that, No. 2 cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder) is yet to play this season. He practiced on a limited basis last week and on Wednesday, so he might make his 2020 debut this weekend, but even if he does he won’t be at 100% capacity. And the team is without All-American rookie safety Grant Delpit (Achilles, IR), who suffered a season-ending injury in training camp.
The Browns could be without three starters in their secondary, and opposing wide receiver units are No. 6 in the league with 28.6 fantasy points per game.
Put on the theme song to “Raw Hide” and get Gallup into your lineups.
In season-long leagues, Gallup is a WR3 with the ability to sublimate into a low-end WR1 in any game. In DFS, he’s an alluring tournament play given the extent to which he has been ignored by the market.
In the Week 3 Millionaire Maker, Gallup was the least-stacked of the three Cowboys wide receivers (per our FantasyLabs Contests Dashboard).
- Dak Prescott-Amari Cooper: 4.52% exposure rate
- Dak Prescott-CeeDee Lamb: 4.53% exposure rate
- Dak Prescott-Michael Gallup: 1.94% exposure rate
Gallup is the No. 1 wide receiver in the CSURAM88 and SportsGeek Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high 99% Bargain Rating.
Salaries: $6,200 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel
Damiere Byrd: New England Patriots (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs, 53 O/U
If you are in a deep league and desperate for a wide receiver available on waivers …
If you are looking for a min-priced punt play in DFS …
If you are fine knowing that you could get literally zero fantasy points from a player …
Then Byrd might be your man.
I like my life, so I’m extremely unlikely to roster Byrd, but I can see the case for him, because he’s a locked-in starter. Although he had zero targets in Week 1, he was 9-99-0 receiving on 12 targets in Weeks 2-3.
For the season, he has played a snap rate of 95.7% and run a route on 96.1% of quarterback Cam Newton’s drop backs. Those are elite numbers.
At a minimum, we can say this about Byrd: He will be on the field and in position to get targets. We just have to hope that he actually gets them.
I don’t like Byrd’s matchup. The Chiefs don’t have an elite pass defense, but this year opposing wide receiver units are No. 32 with just 14.8 fantasy points per game. And that’s probably not a fluke. Last year, opposing receiver units were No. 31 with 16.4 points per game.
Under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs systematically scheme to funnel passing production away from wide receivers and toward running backs and tight ends.
The target volume that the different positional units had against the Chiefs last year tells the story.
- Running backs: 138 targets (No. 1)
- Tight ends: 141 targets (No. 2)
- Wide receivers: 272 targets (No. 28)
Against this Chiefs defense, Byrd might find targets difficult to acquire.
But the underdog Patriots will likely need to throw to keep up with the Chiefs, the Pats have no reliable receiving tight end and Byrd has almost as many air yards as No. 2 wide receiver N’Keal Harry (138 vs. 103).
With a handful of targets and a couple of deep shots, Byrd could surprise, just as he did in Week 2 against the Seahawks with his six-reception, 72-yard performance.
As far as flyers go, Byrd at least has wings.
He’s the No. 1 wide receiver in the Koerner and Raybon Models for DraftKings, where he has a position-high +4.78 Projected Plus/Minus.
Salaries: $3,000 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel
Wide Receivers With Week-Winning Upside
In this section, I highlight some of the wide receivers I especially like as upside season-long and DFS tournament plays.
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers (51.5 O/U): With an NFL-high 37 targets and 356 yards receiving, Hopkins is a locked-in top-three receiver. The Panthers are No. 28 with a 23.4% pass-defense DVOA. Hopkins has position-high median, ceiling and floor projections in our Models. Salaries: $8,500 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins, 53 O/U: Coming off a slate-leading 9-100-3 receiving performance, Lockett is pacing for his third straight 1,000-yard season. The Dolphins are No. 31 with a 42.5 PFF coverage grade, and Lockett has one of the week’s best matchups against slot corner Jamal Perry. Lockett has a position-high 10 Pro Trends on FanDuel. Salaries: $7,000 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel.
Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills (-3) at Las Vegas Raiders, 52.5 O/U: With 20-288-2 receiving, Diggs has helped transform quarterback Josh Allen into a legitimate NFL passer. Teammate John Brown (calf) looks unlikely to play, and Raiders cornerback Damon Arnette (thumb) is out, so Diggs could see more targets and have a more advantageous matchup. The Raiders are No. 27 with a 46.1 PFF coverage grade. Salaries: $6,800 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) vs. Cleveland Browns, 56 O/U: No. 5 in the league with 18.5 expected fantasy points receiving, Cooper has sky-high upside. The Browns will likely be without No. 1 cornerback Denzel Ward (groin). Since joining the Cowboys, Cooper is the No. 1 receiver in the league as a home favorite with 25.8 DraftKings and 20.6 FanDuel points per game (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool). Salaries: $6,700 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings (+4.5) at Houston Texans, 54.5 O/U: After his 6-110-2 Week 1, Thielen underwhelmed in Weeks 2-3 with 6-60- receiving and 1-4-0 rushing. Even so, he is still No. 11 in the league with 124.7 AirYAC per game. His impending shadow matchup with cornerback Bradley Roby is not to be feared. Salaries: $6,600 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (+7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 43 O/U: In quarterback Justin Herbert’s two starts, Allen is 20-228-1 receiving with an NFL-high 29 targets. The Bucs are No. 3 with a -24.9% pass-defense DVOA, so the matchup isn’t great. But No. 2 wide receiver Mike Williams (hamstring) is uncertain to play, so Allen should continue to see heavy target volume. Salaries: $6,500 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7) vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 43 O/U: Teammate Chris Godwin (hamstring) is likely to miss Week 4, so Evans should see more usage. His matchup with cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. is tough, but Evans was 7-104-1 receiving on 10 targets without Godwin in Week 2. Evans is just one of three players with a receiving touchdown in every game this year. Salaries: $6,400 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (+4) vs. New Orleans Saints, 54 O/U: Last year, Babytron was No. 1 in the league with 36 deep targets and No. 2 with 14 end-zone targets, and last week he was 6-57-1 receiving on seven targets in his 2020 debut. In theory, he has a tough matchup against Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. In reality, Lattimore is a streaky pass defender who this year has allowed 10-155-2 receiving on 12 targets. Salaries: $6,000 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel.
Will Fuller, Houston Texans (-4.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings, 54.5 O/U: Sometimes words are not sufficient.
And sometimes words get the job done.
The day I stop being optimistic about Will Fuller is the day I lie dead and buried six feet under in the coffin Will Fuller has put me in. https://t.co/2DekreuV99
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 23, 2020
In the end, all we have is words, and after the words, nothing. Salaries: $5,900 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel.
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns (+4.5) at Dallas Cowboys, 56 O/U: Even with his despondent 11-155-1 receiving line, Beckham is No. 7 in the league with a 38% share of team air yards. As a road dog in a high-scoring game, Beckham might benefit from a pass-heavy game script. Opposing wide receiver units are No. 2 against the Cowboys with 34.0 fantasy points per game. Salaries: $5,800 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs, 53 O/U: His scoreless 22-yard performance underwhelmed last week, but Edelman is still 15-259-0 receiving for the year. With his NFL-high 52% market share of air yards, Edelman has a shot to overcome his tough matchup against slot corner Tyrann Mathieu. In his three games against the Chiefs over the past two years, Edelman is 19-245-2 receiving on 29 targets. Salaries: $5,700 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (-3) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 49 O/U: The 32-year-old veteran is just 13-116-0 receiving, and yet he’s No. 10 in the league with 133 AirYAC per game. Everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is, maybe he didn’t? Salaries: $5,500 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel.
Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers (+3) vs. Arizona Cardinals, 51 O/U: No. 6 in the league with 278 yards receiving, Anderson is having a post-Adam Gase breakout. Despite playing behind teammate D.J. Moore, he barely trails him target share (25% vs. 24%) and AirYAC per game (122.7 vs. 116). With Anderson, you’re basically hoping for a touchdown, and he’s gone off in 19 career games with a score.
Salaries: $5,400 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel.
Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (+4.5) at Houston Texans, 54.5 O/U: Last week, the 21-year-old first-round rookie shifted from the slot to the perimeter, and voilà, a 7-175-1 receiving performance. He could have a similar performance this week against cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who has allowed 9.0 yards per target for his career. Jefferson’s dynasty stock is quickly climbing. Salaries: $5,200 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel.
Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders (+3) vs. Buffalo Bills, 52.5 O/U: Perimeter receivers Henry Ruggs (hamstring) and Bryan Edwards (ankle) should both miss Week 4, so Renfrow could see more targets. In Week 3, he was 6-84-1 receiving on nine targets with no Ruggs and a partial Edwards (41% snap rate). Bills slot cornerback Taron Johnson has had a poor start to the season with his 43.9 PFF coverage grade. Salaries: $4,600 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel.
Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins (+6.5) vs. Seattle Seahawks, 53.5 O/U: The Seahawks have a receiver-friendly funnel defense that ranks No. 29 with a 28.1% pass DVOA, and the Dolphins will likely have a pass-heavy game script as underdogs in a high-scoring game. Williams is a gross 5-74-1 receiving on the season, but in 2019 he was the team’s No. 1 receiver before a season-ending knee injury. Salaries: $4,500 DraftKings, $5,500 FanDuel.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Cincinnati Bengals, 49 O/U: I will probably have Shenault in this section all year long. I don’t apologize. Salaries: $4,400 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel.
N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs, 53 O/U: After a lost 2019 rookie campaign, Harry is 15-145-0 receiving with a healthy 24% target share. At some point, quarterback Cam Newton will need to throw to someone other than slot receiver Julian Edelman. Salaries: $4,000 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel.
Danny Amendola, Detroit Lions (+4) vs. New Orleans Saints, 54 O/U: In case you’re feeling nasty. The Saints are No. 29 with a 43.0 PFF coverage grade, and Amendola has more overall targets (18 vs. 17) and AirYAC per game (75.7 vs. 61.3) than ostensible No. 2 receiver Marvin Jones Jr. Salaries: $4,000 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel.
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears (+2.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts, 43 O/U: I’m talking really nasty. An in-his-prime Rob Lowe-level nastiness. Salaries: $3,000 DraftKings, $4,600 FanDuel.
Pictured above: D.J. Moore
Photo credit: Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images